The 100 Community Colleges With the Most Bang for Your Buck

Getting a good return on investment is important to many, especially in an economic downturn. Education is no exception—in fact, given rampant student loan debt, it may be more important for that particular investment.

Stacker compiled a list of the community colleges with the best return on investment using a study by Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah, and Martin Van Der Werf at Georgetown University. Colleges that primarily offer associate degrees were considered. Colleges are ranked by the highest 40-year ROI, with ties broken by 10-year ROI. Net present value, which compares current costs to future value, was used to calculate rankings in the 2019 study.

Schools that offer training in STEM, the trades, and health care are common throughout this list because of the high demand for those skills, but there are also more obscure programs, including viticulture and exotic animal training.

Though some of these schools offer bachelor's and even master's or doctorate programs, we've focused on shorter programs of the type usually found at community colleges, including associate's degrees and certificates. Many of the schools that offer those programs are set up with transfer agreements with four-year schools to simplify the transition process for their students.

A number of schools that focus on hands-on training have constructed on-campus centers so that students have an experience that mirrors real life. Others are part of hospital and health-care systems and use their facilities. Some serve the local communities, while others offer simulation scenarios.

Virtually all offer some sort of financial aid, but increasingly, colleges are offering free rides based not only on academic or athletic performance, but also financial need. Dual enrollment, for high school students who want to finish up their diploma work while earning college credit, is also increasingly available.

Read on to learn about the schools in the country where students get the strongest value for dollars spent on education.

You may also like: 25 oldest colleges in America

#92. Moorpark College
Joyseulay / Shutterstock

100. Bucks County Community College

- 40-year net present value: $901,000
- 10-year net present value: $178,000
- Graduation rate: 18%
- Median debt: $6,000

Beyond associate's degrees and certificates, this college offers free workforce development courses, including metalwork, industrial maintenance, and QuickBooks to county residents. Other community resources include an Artmobile and online camps for kids of all ages.

99. Eastwick College-Ramsey

- 40-year net present value: $902,000
- 10-year net present value: $143,000
- Graduation rate: 62%
- Median debt: $14,570

Health specialties are a major focus at this school, which also offers courses in areas ranging from culinary to funeral science. Program options range from certificates to bachelor's degrees, and courses are available at four different campuses across New Jersey.

98. Arapahoe Community College

- 40-year net present value: $904,000
- 10-year net present value: $190,000
- Graduation rate: 22%
- Median debt: $4,750

Nursing and EMT programs are popular at this community college, along with liberal arts. The school is ranked as one of the more-liberal colleges in the country. Associate degrees and certificates are available for a broad array of majors. Transferring from Arapahoe is easy, since the school has agreements with more than 30 four-year programs.

97. Ohlone College

- 40-year net present value: $905,000
- 10-year net present value: $176,000
- Graduation rate: 39%
- Median debt: $7,000

Ohlone College has a diverse student body, coming from 37 different countries and exploring 189 degree and certificate programs. Ohlone has a Transfer Admission Guarantee program with a number of the state's universities and 92.1% of students are accepted to transfer to the CSU (California State University) system. The freshman retention rate at the college is 85 percent, because students see value in their first year of college education.

96. Alexandria Technical & Community College

- 40-year net present value: $907,000
- 10-year net present value: $185,000
- Graduation rate: 59%
- Median debt: $8,251

Beyond technical programs including arts & design, transportation & mechanics, and law enforcement, this college offers transfer paths for four-year programs. Almost all—98 percent—have success in job placement after completing their program.

95. Las Positas College

- 40-year net present value: $907,000
- 10-year net present value: $186,000
- Graduation rate: 39%
- Median debt: $5,250

Diversity, safety, and student life are among the selling points at Las Positas College, located on the east side of the Bay Area. Beyond liberal arts courses, other programs include viticulture and winery technology, kinesiology, and fire service technology. The college awarded CARES Act $500 grants to help students with school expenses related to the pandemic.

94. San Diego Miramar College

- 40-year net present value: $908,000
- 10-year net present value: $171,000
- Graduation rate: 40%
- Median debt: $3,500

Students planning a career in health and fitness might want to look at San Diego Miramar College: The school has one of the top exercise science programs in the area, according to Universities.com. Public safety is another area where they have several study options.

93. College of the Canyons

- 40-year net present value: $910,000
- 10-year net present value: $171,000
- Graduation rate: 36%
- Median debt: $5,268

Both traditional and technical programs are available to students at College of the Canyons. Popular majors include social science research, accounting, and emergency medical technician. Full-time, first-time students attend for free for two years.

92. Moorpark College

- 40-year net present value: $911,000
- 10-year net present value: $187,000
- Graduation rate: 38%
- Median debt: $5,500

Two unique offerings at Moorpark College in Southern California include an Exotic Animal Training and Management program and a performing arts center for the school's dance, music, and theatre students. The school also offers educational and legal services specific to DREAMers from undocumented and mixed-status families.

91. Triangle Tech Inc-Dubois

- 40-year net present value: $912,000
- 10-year net present value: $166,000
- Graduation rate: 80%
- Median debt: $12,000

Training for in-demand careers is available to Triangle Tech students via 16-month programs. Electrician and welding programs are the most popular. Distance learning is available for these typically hands-on types of programs, with lab work to be completed when in-person study is possible. The school gets high marks for value from students and parents.

You may also like: 50 Best Colleges on the East Coast

Welding
rusak/Getty Images

90. Triangle Tech Inc-Sunbury

- 40-year net present value: $914,000
- 10-year net present value: $168,000
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Median debt: $12,000

Welding, electrician, and carpentry are the most popular majors at this for-profit technical college. Graduates are pleased with "almost guaranteed job placement." The school has five other campuses throughout Pennsylvania.

89. Prince George's Community College

- 40-year net present value: $917,000
- 10-year net present value: $173,000
- Graduation rate: 9%
- Median debt: $5,250

Culinary and performing arts are two popular programs at this Maryland-based college, which recently constructed centers for the two programs. Fitness, recreation, and travel are also popular paths. The school offers both degree and certificate programs, plus a dual-enrollment program that lets high school students also complete an associate degree.

88. Normandale Community College

- 40-year net present value: $919,000
- 10-year net present value: $180,000
- Graduation rate: 23%
- Median debt: $7,332

Nursing, engineering, and computer science are among the popular professional programs at this Minneapolis-area school. An Integrative Health Education Center that educates both professionals and individuals is one of the perks at this school, which is the largest community college in the state.

87. Williston State College

- 40-year net present value: $922,000
- 10-year net present value: $176,000
- Graduation rate: 33%
- Median debt: $5,500

Workforce training to help people enter careers as truck drivers, certified nursing assistants, and crane operators are one of the ways this North Dakota school is helping people in the area get back on their feet. Other programs include petroleum technology, sports and recreation management and massage therapy.

86. St. Cloud Technical and Community College

- 40-year net present value: $925,000
- 10-year net present value: $193,000
- Graduation rate: 33%
- Median debt: $7,289

Culinary and nursing programs are two of the areas where this community college shines. The school also has a foundation that awards over 300 scholarships annually. Graduates benefit from a strong alumni network.

85. Johnson College

- 40-year net present value: $927,000
- 10-year net present value: $168,000
- Graduation rate: 68%
- Median debt: $12,000

Radiologic and veterinary technician programs, plus welding training, are among the most popular majors at this small college in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The school operates an animal care clinic to serve the public.

84. New England Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $931,000
- 10-year net present value: $129,000
- Graduation rate: 53%
- Median debt: $12,258

Nursing, game design, and automotive mechanics are among the educational options at this institute that offers programs from associate through bachelor's and master's degrees. Programs allow students to complete their educations quickly—some complete associate degrees in 18 months, and bachelor's degrees in only three years.

83. Hesston College

- 40-year net present value: $931,000
- 10-year net present value: $162,000
- Graduation rate: 55%
- Median debt: $12,000

Beyond liberal arts, pilot and nursing training are popular majors at this Christian college in Kansas. Their aviation program allows hands-on training at over 30 airports in the area and encourages women to follow that career path.

82. Bowling Green State University-Firelands

- 40-year net present value: $933,000
- 10-year net present value: $174,000
- Graduation rate: 13%
- Median debt: $16,750

Engineering, early childhood education, and health professions are popular majors at this commuter campus that's part of Bowling Green State University. Students benefit from a 19:1 student-faculty ratio, and 97 percent of graduates are working or continuing their education within six months. The school is actively preparing students to be on the front lines of responding to the current pandemic.

81. University of Northwestern Ohio

- 40-year net present value: $934,000
- 10-year net present value: $169,000
- Graduation rate: 56%
- Median debt: $14,667

Automotive mechanics is one of the most-popular two-year program majors at this school, which also has many people studying business and sports marketing and management. Students who wish to continue their education beyond an associate degree can enroll in bachelor's and master's programs here.

You may also like: 46 Best Lake Towns to Call Home in America

Student studying with headphones
fizkes/Getty Images

80. North Hennepin Community College

- 40-year net present value: $937,000
- 10-year net present value: $187,000
- Graduation rate: 15%
- Median debt: $8,625

Business, including accounting and bookkeeping, is the focus of many students at this college. Those who want to go on to a bachelor's degree can complete their education without leaving the campus, via partnerships with several universities. Those programs include pathways to careers in health, engineering, and education.

79. Mitchell Technical Institute

- 40-year net present value: $939,000
- 10-year net present value: $195,000
- Graduation rate: 69%
- Median debt: $10,000

Agricultural, engineering, and electrician training programs are available at this South Dakota school, and almost all graduates are working within six months. Credit for experiential learning is available to some students who have real-life work experience.

78. Montgomery College

- 40-year net present value: $944,000
- 10-year net present value: $181,000
- Graduation rate: 20%
- Median debt: $6,000

Niche considers this community college the second-best in Maryland, and the Chronicle of Higher Education has named it the most-diverse in the country for several years running. Beyond five centers in the region, Montgomery College is set up for online learning, with 400 credit classes in many areas of study, including early childhood education and criminal justice.

77. CUNY New York City College of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $946,000
- 10-year net present value: $185,000
- Graduation rate: 17%
- Median debt: $6,500

This Brooklyn-based school has popular programs in information science, hospitality, electrical engineering, and more. Associate and bachelor's degree paths are available, and graduates have continued their education via graduate programs at prestigious universities.

76. Triangle Tech Inc-Bethlehem

- 40-year net present value: $947,000
- 10-year net present value: $179,000
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Median debt: $12,000

Welding is the most popular program at this technical college, followed by electrician training. Six years after graduation, median earnings are $41,000. Students speak highly of the hands-on learning.

75. Massachusetts Bay Community College

- 40-year net present value: $948,000
- 10-year net present value: $180,000
- Graduation rate: 18%
- Median debt: $4,000

Two-year associate and one-year certificate programs are available at this community college that trains full-time and part-time students at three locations. Cybersecurity is just one of many offerings.

74. Culinary Institute of America

- 40-year net present value: $950,000
- 10-year net present value: $140,000
- Graduation rate: 73%
- Median debt: $12,000

Culinary Institute of America aka CIA is considered one of the top training options for the restaurant industry. Notable alumni include chefs, sommeliers, and hospitality managers. Students refer to the passionate, creative environment at the school.

73. Ohio University-Chillicothe Campus

- 40-year net present value: $950,000
- 10-year net present value: $191,000
- Graduation rate: 20%
- Median debt: $13,000

Two-year programs at this school include nursing, law enforcement, and business, and more than 90 percent of graduates are working within two years. Chillicothe is one of five campuses for the university, which has been ranked No. 1 in the state for online education.

72. Ohio University-Zanesville Campus

- 40-year net present value: $951,000
- 10-year net present value: $192,000
- Graduation rate: 29%
- Median debt: $13,000

Broadcasting, liberal arts, and nursing are among the popular programs of study at this campus, located just over 50 miles from Columbus. Both associate and certificate programs are available to students looking to quickly complete their education.

71. Ohio University-Southern Campus

- 40-year net present value: $952,000
- 10-year net present value: $193,000
- Graduation rate: 19%
- Median debt: $13,000

Southern is one of the smaller campuses in the Ohio University system. Students talk about getting value for their money at this school, which offers popular programs including nursing and business.

You may also like: America's 15 Most and Least Trusted Professions

Study group
Jacob Ammentorp Lund/Getty Images

70. Ohio University-Lancaster Campus

- 40-year net present value: $952,000
- 10-year net present value: $193,000
- Graduation rate: 25%
- Median debt: $13,000

Liberal arts, child development, and business are some of the chosen areas of study for students at this campus of Ohio University. Ohio has been recognized as a "military-friendly school" that helps veterans.

69. SUNY College of Technology at Alfred

- 40-year net present value: $954,000
- 10-year net present value: $171,000
- Graduation rate: 50%
- Median debt: $12,000

Nursing and electrical engineering are two primary academic paths for students at this college. Both two- and four-year programs are available, in addition to Division III athletics.

68. Triangle Tech Inc-Greensburg

- 40-year net present value: $954,000
- 10-year net present value: $186,000
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Median debt: $12,000

Greensburg is one of six campuses for Triangle Tech that offer technical training in career areas including electrician, welding, and HVAC. Job prospects for graduates are 8 percent above the national average.

67. Ohio University-Eastern Campus

- 40-year net present value: $956,000
- 10-year net present value: $197,000
- Graduation rate: 38%
- Median debt: $13,000

Liberal arts is the sole option for students at this campus of Ohio University. About one-third of students attend part-time. The school recently won a Compass Award for its efforts to ensure financial literacy for people in the state.

66. New Mexico Military Institute

- 40-year net present value: $956,000
- 10-year net present value: $212,000
- Graduation rate: 35%
- Median debt: $5,500

Niche named this military institute the No. 1 community college in the country. Leadership, academic, and physical training options at the school contributed to this award. Students come from 36 states, two territories, and 33 other countries.

65. Pennsylvania College of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $958,000
- 10-year net present value: $160,000
- Graduation rate: 47%
- Median debt: $14,750

Academic options ranging from competency credentials and certificates to associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees are available at this college. Nursing and automotive mechanics are two of the popular two-year programs.

64. Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $959,000
- 10-year net present value: $178,000
- Graduation rate: 46%
- Median debt: $9,500

Many at BFIT are first-generation college students, learning about in-demand fields including automotive mechanics, HVAC, and electrician. Another popular program is cybersecurity.

63. State Technical College of Missouri

- 40-year net present value: $960,000
- 10-year net present value: $212,000
- Graduation rate: 68%
- Median debt: $8,750

Construction, automotive mechanics, and electrical engineering are three popular areas of study for students at State Technical College of Missouri. Transportation and utilities technology are two other options. After graduation, 95 percent of students find employment.

62. Skyline College

- 40-year net present value: $962,000
- 10-year net present value: $204,000
- Graduation rate: 24%
- Median debt: $5,250

Public health is a popular transfer program at Skyline College, and one likely to pay off, given current trends. Students with a household income below $30,000 usually attend for free after financial aid is awarded.

61. Inver Hills Community College

- 40-year net present value: $967,000
- 10-year net present value: $189,000
- Graduation rate: 22%
- Median debt: $8,155

Real-life experience can count as college credit at this school via their ASAP program. Inver Hills also has programs to help people who have barriers to attending, including need for child care or a criminal record. Students can earn an associate degree, or complete a Transfer Pathway or Minnesota Transfer Curriculum program that will transfer credits toward a bachelor's degree.

You may also like: 50 Best Colleges on the West Coast

Nurse holding files
nathaphat/Getty Images

60. Maria College of Albany

- 40-year net present value: $970,000
- 10-year net present value: $213,000
- Graduation rate: 15%
- Median debt: $15,709

Health care, including nursing and occupational therapist programs, is a popular focus at this school, that is is more competitive than many community colleges—they only accept 40 percent of applicants. Almost 40 percent of students are over 25.

59. Valley Forge Military College

- 40-year net present value: $977,000
- 10-year net present value: $103,000
- Graduation rate: 27%
- Median debt: $11,500

Students start early at Valley Forge, a college-prep boarding school and junior college focused on not only academics and athletics, but also leadership and character development. One of the options is a dual enrollment program that allows students to complete high school and college courses. The school is only open to boys.

58. Northern Virginia Community College

- 40-year net present value: $977,000
- 10-year net present value: $190,000
- Graduation rate: 24%
- Median debt: $5,743

Beyond liberal arts, business and STEM studies are popular paths at this college, which has seven locations around the Washington D.C. area. The school cares about the health of students, offering referrals for health care, addiction, and support for veterans, LGBTQIA, and grief.

57. Quincy College

- 40-year net present value: $977,000
- 10-year net present value: $194,000
- Graduation rate: 13%
- Median debt: $8,500

Students can study in 37 associate degree and 27 certificate programs at Quincy College. Nursing and business are among the most popular majors: Criminal justice and health care are other options.

56. Cascadia College

- 40-year net present value: $981,000
- 10-year net present value: $194,000
- Graduation rate: 30%
- Median debt: $5,177

Business and computer science are two popular majors at Cascadia College: Not surprising, given its proximity to the Seattle-area tech industry. Associate transfer degrees and professional and technical certificates are good options for students looking for a speedy education.

55. De Anza College

- 40-year net present value: $983,000
- 10-year net present value: $202,000
- Graduation rate: 62%
- Median debt: $5,500

Located in Silicon Valley, this school offers one of the most successful pathways to a four-year school. Students also graduate with virtually no debt—the college covers tuition, fees, and transportation costs for the first two years, plus $1,000 for books and materials.

54. Galen College of Nursing-Tampa Bay

- 40-year net present value: $984,000
- 10-year net present value: $197,000
- Graduation rate: 41%
- Median debt: $14,953

Nursing and LPN studies are the focus of this Florida school. Many attendees are "nontraditional" students—more than 70 percent are over the age of 25.

53. University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College

- 40-year net present value: $985,000
- 10-year net present value: $193,000
- Graduation rate: 22%
- Median debt: $14,000

Transfer and technical associate degrees are among the offerings at Blue Ash College, which also offers certificates in areas including health care and media, as well as bachelor's degrees. Business and liberal arts are the most popular majors. Classes are small, with a 16:1 student-faculty ratio.

52. Galen College of Nursing-Louisville

- 40-year net present value: $985,000
- 10-year net present value: $198,000
- Graduation rate: 58%
- Median debt: $14,953

Many "nontraditional" students choose Galen College in Louisville for their nursing studies—almost 70 percent are over the age of 25. Some students got hands-on practice at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site.

51. Universal Technical Institute of Arizona Inc

- 40-year net present value: $986,000
- 10-year net present value: $139,000
- Graduation rate: 62%
- Median debt: $12,813

Hands-on experience with mechanics and welding projects are core to this technical training school, where students study for 36 to 51 weeks, then test to become certified in their area of expertise. Most students rated the program very good or excellent, according to Niche.

Army
zim286/Getty Images

50. Marion Military Institute

- 40-year net present value: $988,000
- 10-year net present value: $188,000
- Graduation rate: 32%
- Median debt: $5,500

Those on the path to a career as a military officer benefit from this school's Early Commissioning Program, where students complete the ROTC program and are commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, then continue with a four-year program and concurrent service in the National Guard or Army Reserve. Military science is part of the curriculum for every associate degree awarded at the school.

49. University of Cincinnati-Clermont College

- 40-year net present value: $988,000
- 10-year net present value: $195,000
- Graduation rate: 24%
- Median debt: $14,000

Business and liberal arts are popular majors at this school, considered one of the more conservative colleges in the country. Students in the paralegal program serve the community by collaborating with local attorneys at free legal clinics.

48. Galen College of Nursing-Cincinnati

- 40-year net present value: $988,000
- 10-year net present value: $201,000
- Graduation rate: 37%
- Median debt: $14,953

The Cincinnati campus of Galen College associate degree in nursing offers hands-on training in managing patient care. The student-faculty ratio is 18:1, evening classes are available, and almost 70 percent of students are over the age of 25.

47. Highlands College of Montana Tech

- 40-year net present value: $996,000
- 10-year net present value: $215,000
- Graduation rate: 21%
- Median debt: $11,955

Trades, technical, and transfer programs are available to students at this school, which offers two-year programs in construction, civil engineering, metal fabrication, cybersecurity, and more. The school was named the Best Value College in Montana by TextbookRush in 2019.

46. Island Drafting and Technical Institute

- 40-year net present value: $998,000
- 10-year net present value: $192,000
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Median debt: $12,000

Drafting and design (focused on CAD/CADD training) and electrical engineering technician are the two majors available to students at this school. Students in the drafting program learn both digital and manual techniques, and those in the technician program learn to repair electronic devices, both analog and digital. Amityville is less than 40 miles from New York City.

You may also like: 49 Military Medals and What They Mean

45. Harcum College

- 40-year net present value: $1,003,000
- 10-year net present value: $158,000
- Graduation rate: 16%
- Median debt: $15,500

Harcum was the first to award associate degrees in Pennsylvania. Child care and human services are two of the most popular majors. The school launched new certificate programs in interior design and social media marketing in January 2021.

44. American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral

- 40-year net present value: $1,013,000
- 10-year net present value: $203,000
- Graduation rate: 18%
- Median debt: $6,850

Funeral service and mortuary science is the only degree path at this New York City institute, which has a strict two-year deadline for completion. One unusual thing about the school is its dress code, which bans jeans, sweats, and athletic wear.

43. Northwest Iowa Community College

- 40-year net present value: $1,017,000
- 10-year net present value: $209,000
- Graduation rate: 61%
- Median debt: $6,500

Those who wish to become electrical engineering technicians are in good company here—it's the school's most popular program. Liberal arts and nursing are other top choices. Niche ranked the school highly compared to other online programs and other community colleges.

42. North Dakota State College of Science

- 40-year net present value: $1,024,000
- 10-year net present value: $211,000
- Graduation rate: 50%
- Median debt: $8,750

Niche ranked this school's culinary program one of the best in the country. The college offers two campuses and online study options, and over 70 percent of students attend for free.

41. Bellevue College

- 40-year net present value: $1,028,000
- 10-year net present value: $213,000
- Graduation rate: 25%
- Median debt: $6,908

Business and computer courses are popular at this college, located between the Seattle and Eastside tech industry hotspots in Washington state. The schools' Tombolo Institute offers accelerated coding programs and micro-internships.

Nurses
dusanpetkovic/Getty Images

40. St. Luke's College

- 40-year net present value: $1,040,000
- 10-year net present value: $208,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $12,000

Health care is the focus of this college that offers associate degree programs in nursing, radiology, and respiratory care, as well as certificates in medical laboratory science and phlebotomy. St. Luke's has the other respiratory care training program in the region, which is experiencing a shortage of specialists due to COVID-19.

39. Vermont Technical College

- 40-year net present value: $1,050,000
- 10-year net present value: $207,000
- Graduation rate: 50%
- Median debt: $12,500

Cybersecurity, nursing, and other health care fields are some of the in-demand careers available to graduates of this technical college, that offers programs ranging from certificates to associate and bachelor's degrees. Ninety-five percent of students are employed two years after they graduate.

38. Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute

- 40-year net present value: $1,057,000
- 10-year net present value: $193,000
- Graduation rate: 37%
- Median debt: $15,500

Animal sciences, agricultural business, and crop and soil sciences are among the most popular majors at this school, ranked the No. 1 Ohio community college by Niche. Experiential learning is key to the institutes' educational experience, which includes both technical and transfer associate degree programs.

37. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,057,000
- 10-year net present value: $203,000
- Graduation rate: 64%
- Median debt: $6,500

Niche named this college the No. 1 community college in Pennsylvania. The focus of the school is preparing students for in-demand careers, including electrical technology and computer systems technician. In 2020, the school was awarded $50,000 for its successes in bringing STEM education to diverse populations: Half will go to program development and the other half to scholarships.

36. Ohio State University-Mansfield Campus

- 40-year net present value: $1,062,000
- 10-year net present value: $198,000
- Graduation rate: 47%
- Median debt: $15,500

Beyond liberal arts, school administration and social work are popular majors at this university. Associate degrees are available for a number of the school's programs.

You may also like: How the Richest Person in Each State Made Their Fortune

35. Potomac State College of West Virginia

- 40-year net present value: $1,065,000
- 10-year net present value: $207,000
- Graduation rate: 22%
- Median debt: $14,771

Criminal justice and agriculture are popular majors at this West Virginia school, as well as liberal arts. Tuition-free study for an associate degree is available through the West Virginia Invests Grant Program.

34. University of South Carolina-Lancaster

- 40-year net present value: $1,065,000
- 10-year net present value: $223,000
- Graduation rate: 19%
- Median debt: $19,500

Experiential learning is an innovative option for students at this university. Academic paths include dual enrollment for high school studies, plus options to complete an associate degree or transfer to a four-year program.

33. Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,066,000
- 10-year net present value: $198,000
- Graduation rate: 32%
- Median debt: $16,085

More than 100,000 aviation technicians and pilots have trained at this college, which has four campuses across the country. Programs range in length from less than one year for some certificates, to associate and bachelor's degrees. The job growth outlook for technicians and pilots is faster than average, at 5 percent.

32. Ohio State University-Newark Campus

- 40-year net present value: $1,066,000
- 10-year net present value: $202,000
- Graduation rate: 37%
- Median debt: $15,500

Social work and psychology are among the most popular of nine majors offered at this campus. Students can complete a two-year associate degree, or use their credits to transfer to a four-year program.

31. Ohio State University-Lima Campus

- 40-year net present value: $1,069,000
- 10-year net present value: $206,000
- Graduation rate: 33%
- Median debt: $15,500

Students at this campus can complete a general studies associate degree, knowing that their credits apply to any Ohio State bachelor's degree. Other options include a diversity, equity, and inclusion certificate, and an Academy that allows high school students to earn college credit.

Student working
Pheelings Media/Getty Images
30. Bismarck State College

- 40-year net present value: $1,071,000
- 10-year net present value: $231,000
- Graduation rate: 44%
- Median debt: $6,500

Electrical and manufacturing engineering are two popular majors at this college. Students can also complete an associate degree to prepare for a career in the in-demand cybersecurity industry. The school is located in the growing community of Bismarck, North Dakota.

29. Ohio State University-Marion Campus

- 40-year net present value: $1,073,000
- 10-year net present value: $209,000
- Graduation rate: 41%
- Median debt: $15,500

Getting started toward a career or continuing education is viable at this campus, which offers a general studies associate degree program where all credits are transferable to Ohio State four-year programs. Students can complete nine bachelor's degrees, ranging from engineering and education to nursing or social work, here, or transfer elsewhere. One undergrad was recently awarded a fellowship to continue her research into the connections between DNA mutations and cancer.

28. Pacific College, CA

- 40-year net present value: $1,073,000
- 10-year net present value: $220,000
- Graduation rate: 73%
- Median debt: $18,089

Nursing programs ranging from associate to master's degrees are the sole focus of this school located in Costa Mesa. Advanced placement is an option for professionals with military medical experience. Given the current shortage of nurses, job prospects are good for graduates.

27. Belanger School of Nursing

- 40-year net present value: $1,078,000
- 10-year net present value: $259,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $9,500

This hospital-based school gives students hands-on experience in clinical practice, resulting in associate degrees. Emergency financial aid grants were awarded to students in 2020, funded by the CARES Act. Ninety-six percent of graduates are working within two years.

26. Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

- 40-year net present value: $1,079,000
- 10-year net present value: $209,000
- Graduation rate: 47%
- Median debt: $13,875

Niche deemed this college, which offers majors in agricultural production and business as well as veterinary technology, the best community college in Nebraska. The school was also among the top 10 community colleges in the entire country.

You may also like: These Are the Lowest Earning Counties in Every State

25. Foothill College

- 40-year net present value: $1,089,000
- 10-year net present value: $218,000
- Graduation rate: 59%
- Median debt: $6,468

Students in this Silicon Valley college have easy access to the tech industry after graduation. Academic paths range from certificates and associate degrees to bachelor's degrees, and the benefits of attending this school include free tutoring and small classes.

24. Baptist Health College Little Rock

- 40-year net present value: $1,115,000
- 10-year net present value: $231,000
- Graduation rate: 36%
- Median debt: $9,500

Health-care careers are the focus at this Christian college—majors include nursing and surgical technologist. Certification exam passage rates range from 94% to 100%.

23. Ranken Technical College

- 40-year net present value: $1,121,000
- 10-year net present value: $214,000
- Graduation rate: 56%
- Median debt: $11,800

Vocational programs ranging from certificates to bachelor's degrees are available at this Missouri school, which has three campuses. The college sponsors a robotics championship for students in grades four through 12, and graduates are hired at major employers including Boeing, Siemens, and Verizon Wireless.

22. Southeast Missouri Hospital College of Nursing

- 40-year net present value: $1,124,000
- 10-year net present value: $200,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $15,250

Certificate and associate degree programs focused on patient care, nursing, and radiologic and surgical technology are available at this Missouri college. Students get hands-on experience at a regional hospital, and 98% are working within two years after completing their studies.

21. Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,129,000
- 10-year net present value: $170,000
- Graduation rate: 35%
- Median debt: $13,000

Students can easily commute to the only aviation school in the tri-state area to complete coursework ranging from certificates in manufacturing studies to associate and bachelor's degrees in aeronautical engineering and operations and related fields. The school was recognized as No. 1 in upward mobility in the nation, in a 2017 study by the Equality of Opportunity Project.

College
Canberk Sezer/Getty Images

20. Cabarrus College of Health Sciences

- 40-year net present value: $1,137,000
- 10-year net present value: $226,000
- Graduation rate: 58%
- Median debt: $14,500

Options ranging from certificates and diplomas to associate and bachelor's degrees are available at this health sciences college, which offers majors including medical assisting and imaging, occupational therapy, and surgical technology. Zippia named the school the No. 1 Best Small College in North Carolina.

19. Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Mont

- 40-year net present value: $1,145,000
- 10-year net present value: $207,000
- Graduation rate: 47%
- Median debt: $19,500

Forest technology and occupational and physical therapist assistant programs are just a few of the associate degrees available at this Penn State campus. One of the schools newest programs is Certified Recovery Specialist, designed to train students to assist others with substance abuse recovery, utilizing their own experience.

18. Pennsylvania State University-Penn State DuBois

- 40-year net present value: $1,148,000
- 10-year net present value: $209,000
- Graduation rate: 46%
- Median debt: $19,500

Majors ranging from wildlife technology to information science are available to students at this Penn State campus. Ninety-four percent of students are working within two years post-graduation. The school's LaunchBox is designed to help entrepreneurs and innovators build businesses in the region.

17. Fashion Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,159,000
- 10-year net present value: $242,000
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Median debt: $15,250

Fashion design and manufacturing and advertising are popular paths at this New York City school. Alumni are involved in major projects and campaigns in the creative industry.

16. Morrison Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,162,000
- 10-year net present value: $199,000
- Graduation rate: 68%
- Median debt: $12,000

Cybersecurity and product design are just two of the paths awaiting graduates of Morrison Tech's network administration and engineering technology programs. Ninety-six percent are successfully placed in relevant roles.

15. ITI Technical College

- 40-year net present value: $1,173,000
- 10-year net present value: $212,000
- Graduation rate: 61%
- Median debt: $14,127

Medical, design, and building trades roles await graduates of this technical college, that awards associate degrees and certificates. The student-faculty ratio is 15:1.

14. Carolinas College of Health Sciences

- 40-year net present value: $1,184,000
- 10-year net present value: $247,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $9,083

Prospective health-care professionals study nursing, radiology, and more via certificate and associate degree programs at this college. Students get practical experience at Atrium Health facilities.

13. Maine College of Health Professions

- 40-year net present value: $1,184,000
- 10-year net present value: $265,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $13,920

Imaging and nursing are primary focal points of this health college, which offers training options ranging from certificates to associate and bachelor's degrees. Eighty-five percent pass their certification exams.

12. Dunwoody College of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,197,000
- 10-year net present value: $208,000
- Graduation rate: 57%
- Median debt: $12,000

Labs, shops, and studios at this Minneapolis school give students the chance for hands-on experience. Robotics and construction sciences are two areas where students can complete their training in two years or less.

11. Mercy College of Ohio

- 40-year net present value: $1,206,000
- 10-year net present value: $248,000
- Graduation rate: 57%
- Median debt: $16,590

Health sciences are the focus of this Catholic college, which offers majors including nursing, computed tomography, and polysomnographic technology aka sleep studies. Students recently created COVID-19 educational resources.

You may also like: 50 Best Places to Retire on the West Coast

Pittsburgh-Titusville
Google Maps

10. University of Pittsburgh-Titusville

- 40-year net present value: $1,217,000
- 10-year net present value: $207,000
- Graduation rate: 20%
- Median debt: $21,500

Low tuition and good prospects for work are two reasons this nursing school has a good return on investment. Ninety-five percent of graduates are working or continuing their education within six months after completing their programs.

9. Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

- 40-year net present value: $1,229,000
- 10-year net present value: $211,000
- Graduation rate: 67%
- Median debt: $13,677

Nursing and a number of other health-care specialist paths are available to students at this health science college, which offers programs ranging from certificates to associate and doctorate degrees. Hands-on experiences include simulations and clinical learning.

8. Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health

- 40-year net present value: $1,235,000
- 10-year net present value: $249,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $17,500

Students at this technical college follow paths ranging from pharmacy technician and medical assistant to nursing. A simulation lab allows them to practice patient care while using EPIC electronic medical records. The school is associated with Good Samaritan Hospital and the TriHealth system.

7. Pomeroy College of Nursing at Crouse Hospital

- 40-year net present value: $1,281,000
- 10-year net present value: $258,000
- Graduation rate: 57%
- Median debt: $14,250

Ninety-seven percent of graduates from this two-year nursing program are working within two years. Students benefit from access to a Simulation and Learning Lab with open hours.

6. Laboure College

- 40-year net present value: $1,288,000
- 10-year net present value: $216,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $14,250

Options for students at this health-care college include certificates and associate degrees in specialties ranging from intraoperative neuromonitoring and neurodiagnostic technology to nursing. Clinical training, sometimes including on-campus bootcamps, is key to student success.

5. Memorial College of Nursing

- 40-year net present value: $1,295,000
- 10-year net present value: $268,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $12,250

This school is now known as St. Peter's College Hospital of Nursing. Students have the option of completing the two-year associate degree program as a full-time or part-time student.

4. St. Vincent's College

- 40-year net present value: $1,360,000
- 10-year net present value: $271,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $15,250

Health-care certificate and associate degree programs are available to the students of St. Vincent's College, part of Sacred Heart University. Outside of the classroom, students are helping to provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

3. St. Joseph's College of Nursing

- 40-year net present value: $1,380,000
- 10-year net present value: $250,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $12,000

Payscale ranked St. Joseph's as one of the top New York community colleges, based on salary potential. Students at the school can complete a nursing degree in two years or less: The Accelerated Dual Degree Partnership program is designed for students with a bachelor's in a different area of study.

2. Aultman College of Nursing and Health Sciences

- 40-year net present value: $1,427,000
- 10-year net present value: $293,000
- Graduation rate: not available
- Median debt: $15,000

Students can complete certificates or associate degrees in social work, radiography, and nursing at this school, which also offers bachelor's degrees in health education and administration. Like many other organizations, the school had to pivot during the pandemic, adapting the curriculum.

Nursing
Domepitipat/Getty Images

1. St. Paul's School of Nursing-Queens

- 40-year net present value: $1,877,000
- 10-year net present value: $354,000
- Graduation rate: 46%
- Median debt: $20,000

Practical training in nursing as well as medical and dental assisting is available at this Queens school. Tuition is higher than at many comparable colleges, but median earnings six years after completion are $81,300.

You may also like: These States Pay the Highest Salaries for These 50 Jobs